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CAN A PICTURE PAINT A THOUSAND WORDS?

It’s said a picture can paint a thousand words.  It certainly can but not always accurately.  It can distort the truth.  Art work based on the Ricardian period is certainly true of this.  Take for example the stunning painting by Edwin Austin Abbey, Richard Duke of Gloucester and the Lady Anne.

800px-Edwin_Austin_Abbey_richard_duke_of_gloucester_and_the_lady_anne_1896.jpgRichard Duke of Gloucester and Lady Anne, Edwin Austin Abbey, 1896.

Here we have an angst ridden Anne, while a definitely humpbacked Gloucester offers her a ring.  It just makes you want to shout at the canvas ‘run, run Anne and don’t look back..!’ although it should in fairness be remembered the painting is based on a scene from Shakespeare’s version of Richard lll rather than the actual facts.

There have been numerous paintings of Richard of Shrewsbury being removed from his mother, a distressed looking Elizabeth Wydeville, and although for all I know Elizabeth may well have been distressed on that day,  it aint looking good for the ‘wicked uncle’ is it?

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This version is by Philip Calderon.  Young Richard gazes tenderly at his mother   while being yanked away by his arm by a portly gentleman in red..poor little blighter.

A couple of paintings of the ‘princes’ do stand out for me.  The beautiful one by Millais (he used his daughter as a model for one of the princes) where he has the boys, standing in a darkened stairway of the Tower (where,  to add poignancy to the scene, some believe their remains were found buried) clinging to each other while a dark shadow lurks ominously at the top of the stairs…Yikes!

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The Princes in the Tower,  John Everett Millais 1878.

Another one. this time by Paul Delaroche, King Edward V and the Duke of York in the Tower,  depicts the two young boys, gazing into the middle distance, unaware, hopefully,  of their impending doom, while their spaniel’s attention, tail between his legs, is drawn to the door.  These artists certainly knew how to twang on the old heart strings!  Great stuff but  maybe not very helpful to some in forming positive perceptions of Richard’s character.

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King Edward V and the Duke of York in the Tower, Paul Delaroche 1831.

But finally, one that is actually closer to the truth, from a mural in the Royal Exchange by the artist Sigismund Goetz, and one   I can clearly remember, as a small child, from its inclusion in Cassell’s History of the English People.  I would gaze at it, not properly understanding what it actually represented, but nevertheless entranced.  It was not until years later that I could understand what was going on and who the people were in the painting.  A grave, noble,  and rather handsome humpless Duke of Gloucester being offered the Crown at Baynards Castle.  Beautiful ladies in butterfly headdresses look down at the scene from the top of the stairs….its Cicely and Anne!.  A rather frivolous looking young man, leaning nonchalantly against the stairs,  as an elderly man, almost hidden from sight, leans over and surreptitously whispers in his ear..ah!..tis Buckingham and Morton..meanwhile in the background Gloucester supporters , in harness, roar their approval.  Splendid stuff and about time too.

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Mural in the Royal Exchange,  Offer of the Kingship to Richard Duke of Gloucester at Baynards Castle June 26 1483 Sigismund Goetz

Paul Delaroche also painted The Execution of Lady Jane Grey..not one of our Ricardian characters… but a descendant of  one, Elizabeth Wydeville, via her son Thomas Grey, lst Marquess of Dorset.  Delaroche again gave his artistic license free reign..Jane was in fact executed in the open air, in the part of the Tower that is known as Tower Green where Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and also Margaret of Salisbury, Clarence’s daughter were executed.

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The execution of Lady Jane Grey, Paul Delaroche 1833

So at least one of these extremely gifted artists managed to get it right in terms of accuracy as to what actually happened.    What gifts for the art world but for the greater part, I do wonder if in the past,  these paintings proved for some people  to be rather a hindrance for the rehabilitation of Richard’s character.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A not-so-well-known portrait of Richard III…

richard - Tim Rice

This is a portrait of Richard that does not crop up all that often. Known as the Sheldon Master, it is now owned by Sir Tim Rice. You can see its provenance in this article.

 

RICHARD III IN EXETER–A PAINTING DISCOVERED

After Buckingham’s rebellion, Richard III rode west from Salisbury, where he’d ordered the faithless Duke executed (interestingly, IMO, on the birthday of the elder ‘Prince in the Tower’ which may well be significant–who knows!) and eventually reached the town of Exeter, after mopping up the last of the rebellion…and the rebels.

Although Exeter is not generally known for its Ricardian connections, it would seem there are more than one might think, not just in the way of medieval buildings Richard would have seen but in later artworks that commemorated his brief stay.  For instance, there is Victorian stained glass window found in the Mercure Hotel, originally called the Rougemont after the castle where Richard supposedly misheard the name as ‘Richmond’ and became very sorrowful since he knew he would not live long after seeing Richmond. (A tale that is without a doubt apocryphal!) The window was prized enough to be removed and hidden during WWII in case of bomb damage to the hotel.

It had also come to my attention that a Victorian era a painting also exists showing Richard’s arrival in the city through the East Gate. Both the painting and the stained glass show a young, upright King Richard–no Shakespearean limping monster here, despite the time in which both pieces were created! The painting is particularly interesting in its use of colour and the depiction of motifs such as Richard’s boar–being quite bright and airy, it has an almost modern feel as opposed to the more usual darkly-hued, melodramatic Victorian art on historical subjects.

The artist was George Townsend and the picture called ‘The East Gate , Exeter, and the Arrival of King Richard, 1483.’

http://rammcollections.org.uk/object/drawing-220/

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Details about various Ricardian places and items of interest in Exeter have been published in a booklet by Ann Brightmore-Armour; further research is ongoing.

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A sampler showing some of the events of 1483 in Exeter

Thanks to Ian Churchward of Richard The Third Records for his information on the Exeter painting, window and booklet.

 

 

 

Richard, the man in blue and ermine….

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The above illustration is of Edward IV receiving a book from Anthony Woodville. With the king are his queen, Elizabeth Woodville, and his heir, the future Edward V.

Looking at it, I found myself wondering if the man in blue and ermine, third from left, might be Richard III. As Duke of Gloucester, of course. Ermine suggests he has to be of royal blood, which means that it could also be George of Clarence. My search for the answer commenced.

To begin with, when was the illustration painted? After all, George died in 1478, so a later date would eliminate him from the puzzle. Prince Edward seems to be under ten. Seven/eight or so, perhaps? He was born in 1470, so it is still possible that the man in blue is George. Richard remains well and truly in the running, of course.

A Google image search followed, with me examining the “page” of every version of the illustration. That is how I hunted it down to being Lambeth Palace “Ms 265, f.VI v Edward IV, with Elizabeth Woodville, Edward V and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III, from the ‘Dictes of Philosophers,’ c.1477 (vellum). It is of Earl Rivers  (Anthony Woodville 1440-1483) presenting his translation of the Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers to the king and his family.

So, it is Richard!

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Now, I do not claim to be the first to discover this. Indeed not, so please don’t think I seek laurels. Not even a pat on the head. To begin with, it has already been positively identified as him. No, I am just pleased to think that I saw something and followed it through to find out I was right. Would I like to be the first to find a new anything about Richard? You bet your bottom dollar!

Found in Wiltshire …

This piece, “Christ Blessing”, as rediscovered recently in the Holy Trinity Church, Bradford-on-Avon,_92853172_church14 is by the Flemish artist Quentin Metsys the Elder (1466-1530), not his grandson (c.1543-89). How fortunate that it appears to have saved the church.

The Private life of Edward IV, by John Ashdown-Hill….

There are some very gooNed Fourd biographies of Edward IV, by the likes of Pollard, Ross, Kleinke and Santiuste but surely none have tracked his movements, sometimes month by month, like this book does. This is not a full biography and it does not claim to be, but focuses on Edward’s romantic life – his known partners including his legal wife, Lady Eleanor Talbot, Henry Duke of Somerset (!), Elizabeth Lambert and Elizabeth Woodville, as well as the more … elusive … ones.

Edward had other children, apart from those born to Elizabeth Woodville, and Ashdown-Hill tries to identify their mothers. Two of these children were Lady Lumley and Arthur Wayte.

Having devoted much of his nine previous books to explaining the context of the Three Estates offering the throne to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the writer now goes further into the mystery of “Princes” through an excellent appendix by Glenn Moran, which takes their female line forward to a lady who died earlier this year. It also encompasses the complication of someone who definitely ended his life in the Tower about sixty years later and whose mtDNA would almost certainly be identical.

Together with this discovery, we know somewhere else that Edward V and his remaining brother cannot be found. It seems that we only have to wait for the urn to be accessible to determine its contents, one way or the other.

THE LEGENDARY TEN SECONDS–RICARDIAN CHRISTMAS SONG OUT SOON

 

A new single by the LEGENDARY TEN SECONDS  is being released on iTunes and Amazon on December 1.

MIDDLEHAM CASTLE ON CHRISTMAS EVE was written by Ian Churchward and Frances Quinn, who also painted the cover art, showing a ghostly party riding through the snow towards the ruined castle.

Frances, who lives in Dublin, Ireland, had this to say on her participation in The Legendary Ten Seconds’ latest project:

“I did the painting first and then got the idea for the poem-I found a photo of the castle in the snow on the net & because I painted it on blue paper it looked like nightime,so I added the ghosts & then wrote the poem. Alcohol may have played a part in it too! (laughter)
 These ideas just pop into my head. Mead of inspiration,y’know…and all that!”
Frances had been doing Ricardian themed art for several years; she also does pagan, fantasy and animal subjects–especially dogs and horses. Her artwork has appeared in John Ashdown-Hill’s THE MYTHOLOGY OF RICHARD III,  and on the covers of I RICHARD PLANTAGENET I and II by  J.P. Reedman, and N. Rose’s BEARNSHAW series.

A beautiful cover for a beautiful king….?

richard II

This likeness of Richard II is from the cover of the Penguin Monarchs edition on this fascinating king, written by Laura Ashe. (Penguin Monarchs: Richard II – A Brittle Glory by Laura Ashe. http://tinyurl.com/zbur7aw)  The reviews and comments at Amazon are mixed – the commenters even have a little spat. I  will purchase it because I am always eager to add more of Richard II to my personal library. He and Richard III vie for supremacy on that battle-shelf, I assure you.

My personal preference is for larger, more detailed biographies, which this book does not purport to be. One commenter at Amazon complains that it is very small, but it is intended to be a concise description of Richard’s life and reign. 

Whatever the contents, the cover illustration is breathtakingly beautiful. They say Richard was indeed handsome to the point of beauty, as some of his portraiture hints. While I accept that this present picture is modern, it just goes to show how, with a little tweaking of the known facts, a talented artist can turn a suggestion of the possible Richard into something which may be very close indeed to the real man. Too romantic? No. If a man was described as handsome to the point of beauty, then he must have been quite something to see. I doubt if Richard II ever walked into a crowded room unnoticed! Even wearing an old cloak and no headgear.

Of the three Richards of England, I am drawn to the second and third, both of whom are monarchs I believe to have been maligned. Oh, ‘maligned’ is a word all too often applied to Richard III, but I think Richard II deserves it too. Yes, he was guilty of a great deal of which he is accused, but at the same time, he was beset by uncles and nobles from the moment he became a child-king. If he grew up as damaged goods, it’s hardly surprising. 

Anyway, the strength of the cover art for this book arrested my attention, and it will soon be on my shelf. As an author myself, I know the value of a good cover. It is a fact that a lousy one can demolish the chances of an excellent book. With this, Laura Ashe must surely have a winner. I do hope so. When I have read it, I will report my findings! 

The brilliant artwork is by ANNA+ELENA=BALBUSSO ART, http://www.balbusso.com/ and I have to say that I would LOVE to see Richard III given the Balbusso treatment!!!

PS: A week later. I have now received and read this book, and my first impression—literally—was that they’d skimped on the dust cover. It only encloses the bottom three-quarters of the white cloth book, leaving the top quarter without anything. White? Dirt? I can see future second-hand copies turning up with bikini lines. Commenters on Amazon have also complained about the book’s small size, both in inches and pages, and it is true. It is more like a school text book than one of the larger biographies to which I am partial, but at the same time it gets to the nitty-gritty of Richard’s character and the problems that resulted from it. 

In Chapter One, I read “The book is arranged by four locations, each both real and imagined: parliament, battlefield, city, shrine.” The court is not included because it is considered in the context of these stated four locations. Richard’s story is revealed mostly through contemporary chronicles and eye-witness accounts. 

He was undoubtedly convinced that he was monarch by divine right, and any insult was taken to heart…and remembered for a long time. He was a Plantagenet elephant, and thought ahead, being prepared to wait for his revenge. It was also his preference for peace over war, which didn’t go down well with his martially-minded aristocracy, with whom he clashed time and again. Fatally. His defiance took the form of extravagance of almost mythical proportions, favourites and caprice, and his word was worthless because he would never abide by it. In the end he was taken down, as modern parlance has it.  Unfortunately, it was the House of Lancaster that did it.

His conduct, and the consequent usurpation of Henry IV, sowed the seeds of the Wars of the Roses, and although I will always find Richard II engrossing, I also want to shake him. But if I had laid a hand on the royal person, I’d have been for the chop, quick as a wink. It is a fact, though, that someone should have shaken him, (perhaps a holy hand reaching down from the heavens, for he would have understood that!) Richard was not a fool or a bad king, he simply rebelled against everything that happened to him in childhood and continued throughout his adult life. And when Richard II kicked up a storm, he did it in Cinemascope and Technicolor. 

All in all, I think Laura Ashe has written a very informative, easy-to-read account of Richard II, the man and his reign. I am not at all sorry to have purchased it, and I recommend it to anyone who seeks to be introduced to this strangely enigmatic king. But I do wish the cover had enclosed the whole book! Are Allen Lane (subsidiary of Penguin) on an economy drive??? Messing with covers is an ominous sign, in my experience.

However, the cover art is every bit as gorgeous as I thought before buying, but why did they have to cut corners…er, tops? 

Note: The Penguin Monarchs edition about Richard III (by Rosemary Horrox) will be published next year. No date as yet.

 

Shakespeare’s … Father

This interesting article shows how John Shakespeare, as Bailiff of Stratford-upon-Avon, was forced to paint over some mediaeval murals. As a clue to what really happened, remember that Michael Wood thinks both John and William Shakespeare to have been Catholics.

Let me reassure you that Henry VIII wasn’t still King sixteen years after he died, nor was William Shakespeare born thirty-eight years after he died – and long after his father died. The murals are so truly stunning that they are worthwhile despite the errata.3aae9bf400000578-3964086-the_colourful_murals_thought_to_be_some_of_the_finest_in_europe_-m-46_1479900631120

The Earl of Lincoln, courtesy of Titian – and an author’s imagination….

Looking through Google images, I have come upon various uses of my tweaked version of Titian, whose masterpiece, Portrait of a Man in a Red Cap, I was impudent enough to ‘adapt’ into my idea of John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln. Sorry Titian. Anyway, I’ve always been pleased with the result, so I thought I’d explain how it came about.

Writers of historical fiction always have to picture their characters. Well, all writers do, of course, but for historical fiction, featuring actual persons, one has to pay attention to known portraits and descriptions. We all know what Richard III and Henry VII looked like, and Margaret Beaufort. Even Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York have their famous likenesses. My main character, Cicely Plantagenet, daughter of Edward IV, is thought to have been like the picture below – well, maybe, since she and all her sisters are portrayed in exactly the same way. Peas in a Yorkist pod.

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Were they really all so uniformly fair and golden? Or was this image merely an ideal? Thomas More described her as ‘not so fortunate as fair’, but I think the ‘fair’ refers to good looks rather than golden hair.

But other important men and women are still entirely unknown to us visually, obliging an author to ‘invent’ their appearance. One of these men was Richard III’s trusted nephew, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln. John was the eldest son of Richard’s sister, Elizabeth, and the 2nd Duke of Suffolk, another John de la Pole. He was said to have been Richard’s choice as heir, and certainly he was worthy, but what do we really know about him? He was an important lord, but his looks, thoughts, character, family life and so on are a mystery. To me, at least. Maybe there is a wealth of information about him, in which case, someone please tell me how to see it.

So I needed to give him an appearance that would fit with the character I had created. After looking around for a suitable portrait to tinker with, I came upon Titian’s Portrait of a Man in a Red Cap. Perfect. Well, apart from the red cap and the main clothes, which do not fit a young aristocrat who died in 1487. So please overlook the fashion. The rest of my changes have recreated, to me, the dashing Jack de la Pole of my books.

Whether it conjures your idea of Lincoln is a matter of choice. Maybe you see him as big, brawny and blond, or red-haired and freckled, with a snub nose. Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.

 

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